Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Latest Laser Surgery

A couple of months ago a new retinologist at my eye doctors practice took a look at my left eye and though it has been NLP (No Light Perception) for quite sometime now lots of new blood vessels ( neovascularization) have formed in the eye, making it pretty uncomfortable.

Anyway this meant laser surgery to destroy those new vessels. I went for my second series of treatments yesterday.

The treatment itself is pretty simple, after dilation of the eye, you lean into the headrest on which there is a laser and optics for the doctor to observe and aim the laser. Then the doctor fires several hundred laser shots into the eye to cauterize the blood vessels and seal them. The whole process takes about twenty minutes. There is some discomfort, eased by my taking some Tylenol a couple of hours prior to the procedure. The doctor can inject pain-killers, but having that done a couple of years ago was actually worse than the procedure and leaves you with a pretty colorful black-eye.

After the procedure, my doctor was pretty up-beat. She had done two sessions of laser in one go, just to reduce any need later to do anymore.

But then came her killer stroke. She said, "OK. Be aware that in cases like yours, past results often predict the future. You will now probably lose the right eye as well."

My heart sank. My right eye has very little peripherel vision, but that is some vision. I do not want to lose that. Here she is saying I will lose that too. Even though the right eye has been stable for about thirteen years, the left was also complicated with a stroke which destroyed the optic nerve blood supply, I now cannot do anything but worry that I can lose what vision I have at any moment.

That is not a good feeling to have as we move into the summer.

Monday, June 8, 2015

High Visibility Light Swich Cover for the Visually Impaired

In the past few days I have moved house. Stressful at the best of times. But very stressful when you are looking for light in your new home and all the light switches are the same color as the walls.

So I went to my Zazzle store page and created this bright and contrasting design for a light switch cover.

This design is specifically created not to blend with any background, it is meant to stand out for those of us with low vision.

Take a look at this and many other items at my Zazzle Store.

Chevron Light Switch Cover
Chevron Light Switch Cover by Bretsuki
Check out other Chevron Light Switch Cover at zazzle.com

Sunday, May 24, 2015

What Would You Do?

Recently I have been hearing a lot of articles on various blind websites and podcasts about declaring blindness to a new employer.

The arguments seem to go that if you are blind, you should either declare in order to prevent a prospective employer becoming angry at your "non disclosure" at the interview, thus losing you the job.

Or you should  keep silent as long as possible so hoping if the perspective employer doesn't notice you might land the job.

These two views seem legitimate  in the case that many blind people are unemployed. But to me it seems that we as blind or even other disabled people cannot hope to hide our disability indefinitely.

So in my  case for instance. I cannot see well enough to walk down the street without assistance, whether that be my white cane or Leif, my guide dog.

Should I try to hide the fact that I cannot see I would rapidly give the game away by walking into the nearest wall or worse still, the interviewer.

So my dilema becomes cane or dog?

Do I use a cane for the interview or do I go in as I would to work with my dog?

It is tough. There is no right answer. Just opinion.

But in such a case "What would you do?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Thoughts of a Guide Dog: Leif and the treat mine

Life as a guide dog can be hectic.

Recently I have had to retrain William in his use of positive reinforcement.

William, over the eighteen months we have been working together had become prettylazy about offering treats. Instead of rewarding often he began only offering a treat after we reached a kerbside.

Of course this meant that I was working hard, avoiding the trash cans, lamp=posts and benches as well as the occasional pedestrian and car.

Now as a guide dog, I can't just say, "Hey Bud! Give more treats, dude."

We guide dogs don't work that way. It is not our nature. So, How did ?I show my disappointment in the situation? I sniffed.

Sniif a bush. Sniff a fire hydrant. Sniff a tree. My irritation knew no bounds.

Then Came a visit from a Guide Dogs for the Blind trainer. William pointed out "my" problem. Typical human, His problem is MY problem. But.

Easily resolved said the trainer, offer more treats more often. Reward only the good behavior not the bad.

Well I sat through that lesson with a rising heart. More treats. Treats for all my good work. Treats are great for encouraging  a guide dog.

Well  now I have to say, my life is easier. William gets into the treat thing pretty well. I get rewarded all the time. Now my life is less hectic. No more looking for places to sniff. Now my life is hectic in my driving to the next treat.

Fire hydrants, lamp-posts and benches are no longer sniff points they are possible treats mines. Avoid them and do so with gusto and I get a treat.

So tip to all those with a guide dog out there and in particular to you guides. Make every situation a treat mine.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Braille Assessment

My first lesson in Braille was shall we say an "eye opener."

What did we do?

First my instructor went through the letters in Braille on a large model of a Braille cell. The dots were modelled by table tennis balls on a rectangular piece of wood.

Following that my instructor checked my fingers for sensitivity.  This was done by having me tell him how many lines of Braille dots I could feel. He actually suggested there were just two lines, I thought there were three lines and said so. He agreed, the suggestion was just that, a trick to see if I would just agree to pass the test.

Then finally he showed me what a real Braille text feels like.

Were there any surprises for me?

There was one really big surprise for me. I had come across braille on items such as hotel room numbers or the odd gift card like Starbucks which sometimes have Braille lettering on them. There the Braille is widely spaced and quite easy to feel. 

A real Braille book is very densely packed though. there seems so little space between letters it almost seems that there is just one stream of dots with no distinguishing features or breaks.

I can say right now my estimation of Braille readers has gone way up, I had imagined it pretty easy, just like reading with eyes, but I cannot imagine reading even printed matter that is so densely packed.

My instructor, Paul, said that pretty much every adult who has been sighted and whom he has taught has a similar experience. Often the experience is compounded with a fear of failing, I had felt this too, though I didn't mention this. The world of Stage one Braille is a large one, twenty six letters, symbols for capital letters and punctuation as well as numbers to learn.

Where from Here?

Now I have to wait for my Braille textbook to arrive and we will begin more formal lessons, learning the alphabet.

I did get to try out some of the initial lesson from the book yesterday. The letters a through e. I also got to read a very simple set of words in Braille. We did this in a sort of spelling bee style.

I would find the word, say it, spell it out and repeat the word again.  Bear in mind though we are talking of sentences like "The cat, sat on the mat." But in the end I was happy, I could read simple words like ; cab, ace and bee.

Now for my first assignment. Wait for the textbook.

Would anyone have any experiences of learning Braille that they would like to share?

Please feel free to tell me about them in the comments section.